Webinar: “It’s like a weight lifted off your shoulder”: A qualitative study of adult carers taking a break

April 12, 2024

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“It’s like a weight lifted off your shoulder”    A qualitative study of adult carers taking a break

Without sufficient support, informal carers are at risk of poor health and a breakdown in the care they provide, with consequences for the carer and the cared-for-person. Respite care is used to support carers to have a break, to enable them to continue caring. There is a body of literature exploring respite limited to adult day services and carers for people with dementia, but little research exploring breaks from caring for people with other conditions. The presenter will share findings from qualitative research in Scotland that begins to address this gap.

Interviews were conducted with informal carers in Scotland, UK, who had experienced a break from caring by admitting the cared-for-person to a temporary facility-based respite service. Carers were recruited from Scotland via a respite centre. Participants cared for people with either multiple sclerosis or conditions resulting from a stroke. Reflexive thematic analysis was undertaken to explore experiences of a break and how it impacted on the caring role. The analysis led to six themes being generated: ‘Caring is all-consuming’; ‘Caring changes sense of self’; ‘Relief, recovery, repair’; ‘Breaks give carers their lives back (briefly)’; ‘A break doesn’t solve everything’; ‘Trust in the respite centre is crucial’. This study found that breaks facilitated by temporary institutional care are, for most carers, overwhelmingly positive experiences. They support a carer’s wellbeing, enabling them to recover sufficiently from the all-consuming nature of caring to continue to provide care. This supports existing qualitative research in this area. However, the positive effect of breaks was short-lived and carers want longer and more frequent breaks. For breaks to be a positive experience for carers, the right respite centre, which the carers trust, must also be available. The study concludes, that many carers find the experience of breaks positive, which can support them to continue to care.


Richard Meade, Director, Carers Scotland & Carers NI

ARCH cohosted this webinar with The BREAK Exchange.

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